Choosing the right fabric can be confusing and intimidating- especially in huge fabric stores, so, that is why I made this quick fabric guide. When I was a beginner, I remember wondering where you even start looking. It seemed so daunting.
Plus, aside from the overwhelming multitude of design choices in the fabric store, the fabric type you choose can change the entire look of your garment and make the sewing process a lot harder (silk versus cotton for example).
BUT, if you go into the store knowing the specific type of fabric you want, it’ll make your life a lot easier!
How do you know what type a fabric is? Just look at the signs, read the bolt labels OR ask an employee.
So, here are the most common types of fabrics broken down into lists based on skill level. Some would argue that knits are actually good for beginners as they eliminate a lot of fitting issues.So, as long as you feel comfortable sewing with a stretchy fabric, knits can be used by beginners as well (see tips for sewing with knits here)
- Cotton Shirting
- cotton-blend wovens
- most wool wovens (steer clear of gauze)
- bonded fabrics
- Jersey and stretch fabrics
- medium weight silks
- silks with body
- fine voiles and challis
- faux leather
- Silk Jersey
- Light-weight silks (including chiffon, gauze, charmeuse)
- Silk brocade
- Lace, sequined and beaded fabrics
Choosing Fabrics: Quick Tips
A couple other things to consider before heading to the fabric store:
- Your budget! Especially for beginners- consider how much money you’re willing to spend on a sewing project that you may end up wrecking.
- If you are unsure about a certain fabric- try it on! I know it sounds weird, but you can hold the fabric against your body in front a mirror to test the drape and stiffness.
- Don’t worry too much about it. If you end up choosing the ‘wrong’ fabric, it isn’t the end of the world. There is actually a famous designer who started off making clothing out of home decor fabrics! Clearly, it doesn’t really matter that much. Plus, that’s how you learn!
- Your Current Clothing. Are there certain colors or textures missing from your wardrobe that could create more balance? Think of your entire wardrobe as a cohesive collection and think about how you could make it more interesting and dynamic.
That’s all for now. I hope this quick fabric guide has been useful!
The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion (2015) New York, New York. Stewart, Tabori & Chang an Imprint of ABRAMS.